City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito published an article this week denouncing the House of Representatives “Trump Act” attacking immigrants. Here is some of what she wrote:
The debate over so-called “sanctuary cities,” reached a fever pitch last week when – egged on by Donald Trump – House Republicans voted for a bill which would block federal funding to cities that have taken immigration matters into their own hands because of federal inaction. The misguided legislation would have a profoundly negative impact on immigrant communities in localities like New York City, which have passed sensible and humane immigration reforms that keep people safe while also bringing some sanity to our broken immigration system.
Instead of having a serious discussion on the need for comprehensive immigration reform, the debate has devolved into a series of sideshows which don’t deal in reality. Representative Trey Gowdy declared that no American is safe in a sanctuary city – even though as a so-called “sanctuary city” New York City is considered one of the safest big cities in the nation. Senator Chuck Grassley said Arizona’s short-lived draconian, discriminatory, and unconstitutional immigration laws were an attempt to protect its citizenry from “criminal aliens.”
The presidential trail has not been better.
Front-runner Donald Trump has spent his entire campaign railing against common sense immigration policies. Senator Ted Cruz accused the Obama Administration of “releasing murderers and rapists.” Senator Rand Paul referred undocumented immigrants as “illegal aliens.” And both Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio eagerly agreed with Donald Trump on the need to penalize American cities for how they treat undocumented immigrants.
Criminalizing all immigrants is the wrong approach and would only take us backwards to a time when people were afraid to come forward to report crimes or interact with law enforcement for fear of deportation resulting from a broken immigration system. It would, in fact, make us less safe.
Nevertheless, Congress has doubled down on its abject failure to govern by passing a law that would turn localities into immigration enforcement agencies. However, while Congressional Republicans and presidential candidates may rely on political point-scoring and campaign rhetoric, cities must deal in reality. That means New York City and others can’t wait for federal action on immigration reform: we must lead.